Factbox: Billionaires explain giving away wealth to charity

NEW YROK (Reuters) - Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have recruited another 17 U.S. billionaires to take a philanthropic pledge to give away at least half their fortunes.

A total of 57 billionaires have now joined The Giving Pledge, which was launched in June by Microsoft founder Gates and Buffett, who made his fortune with insurance and investment company Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Here are some excerpts from some of the latest billionaire pledge letters:

Investment company founder Nicolas Berggruen - “Everyone is dealt a group of cards at birth. With them come possibilities and responsibilities. What one does with them is up to each one of us, and the sum of those choices, constitute our lives. I have been blessed with the chance to build the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust.”

AOL founder Steve Case and wife Jean - “We share the view that those to whom much is given, much is expected. We realize we have been given a unique platform and opportunity, and we are committed to doing the best we can with it.

“We also look forward to working with the dozens of others who have made the Giving Pledge commitment to share lessons, perspectives and best practices.”

Investment fund founder Lee Cooperman and wife Toby - ” feel it is our moral imperative to give others the opportunity to pursue the American Dream by sharing our financial success ... In the 1930s, Sir Winston Churchill observed that ‘We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give.’ ... It is in this spirit that we enthusiastically agree to take the Giving Pledge.”

David Green, founder of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts stores, and wife Barbara - “Like my parents and their parents before them, you don’t have to be wealthy to give. You can give your time, your talents and your passion. We congratulate those who have taken on this wonderful pledge.”

Entrepreneur Lyda Hill - “I wish to make the world a better place by advancing solutions to medical and environmental issues through investments in and donations to science.”

Investor Carl Icahn - “Until Bill, Melinda and Warren started this project, I never considered going public with my intentions.

“However, I certainly see the value of a project that encourages wealthy individuals to step forward and commit to use their wealth for the common good.

“I hope that by adding my voice with those who are supporting this project, we will all encourage others to participate.”

Entrepreneur Sidney Kimmel - “My thinking is rather simple: I learned as a young boy that sharing with others is the right thing to do, a lesson I observed from my father’s willingness to share even our meager means with those less fortunate. Ever since, it has never been difficult for me to continue to do the right thing.”

Duncan and Nancy MacMillan - “We very much believe that the accumulation of wealth gets us nowhere. Money has the most value when it’s used for others and the greater good, for sustaining and enriching our world. In our minds, foundational areas like education and health are the most critical.”

Developer George P. Mitchell - “Throughout my life I’ve seen firsthand how even a little financial assistance could mean a chance for struggling students, dedicated scientists, and families to reach their goals.”

The full list of billionaires and their letters can be seen at

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Bill Trott